Qatar in early talks to acquire stake in EADS

Gulf state may buy half of carmaker Daimler’s 15% stake in European defence firm
Qatar in early talks to acquire stake in EADS
Defence firm EADS is the parent company of planemaker Airbus
By Staff writer
Sun 18 Sep 2011 10:59 AM

The Gulf state of Qatar is interested in buying a 7.5
percent stake in European aerospace and defence company EADS from Daimler, a
German magazine reported.

It said members of Qatar's government had met with German
Economy Minister Philipp Roesler two weeks ago, Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Germany's economy ministry said she could
not comment on ongoing negotiations. A spokesman for Daimler declined to

Any move by a foreign investor to take a stake in EADS would
come as a surprise because maintaining a fragile internal power balance between
French and German interests in EADS has been a sensitive topic ever since the
group was created.

EADS' defence portfolio includes France's nuclear weapons
and German fighters, and its Airbus subsidiary guarantees about 55,000 civil

One of the founding shareholders of EADS, Daimler aims to
cut its stake and has urged the German government to find a solution, but
reports have said that Berlin is having trouble finding an investor who would
maintain the balance of power.

Daimler owns 15 percent of EADS and has voting rights for a
further 7.5 percent of its shares held by a consortium of financial investors.

Sources have said German state development bank KfW may have
to take on EADS shares from Daimler, a solution unpopular with some politicians
in Berlin who oppose state intervention in the economy.

Last week, Berlin denied a report it was preparing to take a
stake in EADS after failing to find a domestic private investor for part of
Daimler's holding in EADS.

Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said this week that
talks about the German car maker selling a stake in EADS were progressing,
without elaborating.

A ministry source said that while interest from Qatar shows
that EADS is highly attractive, any potential purchase of a stake by a
sovereign fund would have to be examined very critically because of the
company's strategic importance.

Qatar is no stranger to major investments in Germany, having
bought a 9.1 percent stake in Germany's biggest builder Hochtief last year, and
a 10 percent stake in Porsche Automobil Holding for $9.9bn a year earlier.

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